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Indian consumers changing, and how
Madhukar Sabnavis
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December 02, 2005

These are consumer behavioural norms of the past. These are the behavioural patterns of the generation pre-liberalisation.

However, just as consumer mindsets and attitudes have taken a step change since the opening up of the economy and the advent of consumerism, so too have consumer behaviours seen a 'sea change' during the same period.

What's particularly interesting is that behaviours shaped by a few categories -- largely technology products -- have perhaps changed consumer mindsets so dramatically across all other categories that marketers need to re-orient themselves to optimally milk opportunities in the market place.

While some of these trends may seem niche today, they will perhaps drive the consuming class -- i.e. the 300 million Indians with growing purchasing power -- tomorrow and hence define marketing and communication tasks in the future.

Pulling back it may be worthwhile to first identify the four macro-behavioural trends emerging in consumer markets today.

What are the key implications of all these to the average marketer and communicator?

Given these macro-behavioural trends, there is perhaps a need for marketers to go beyond:

There is no doubt that India is a dream to a mass, volume marketer. However, there is an equal dream opportunity for the niche, premium marketer if he is willing to adapt to it. The junior Sharmas, Kulkarnis, Venkataramans and Gangulys behave differently from their seniors and offer a step change to marketers.

Peter Drucker said, "The purpose of business is to find a customer." Theodore Levitt elaborated that "the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer". However, today business is moving towards what Jason Jennings and Laurence Houghton said, "The purpose of business is to find, keep and grow the right customer."

Something worth thinking about.

Madhukar Sabnavis is Ogilvy and Mather India Board Partner (Discovery and Strategy).

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